Thursday, May 9, 2024

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Nobody wanted to say that Brock Purdy was due for a night like this, but honestly, he probably was. Nobody in the 49ers organization wanted to watch him throw four interceptions against the Ravens. Nobody in red and gold wanted Purdy to go from MVP frontrunner to the main reason they got crushed on national TV. Nobody in a 49ers uniform wanted Purdy to hit this bump in the road at full speed and full-tilt splatter.

But yes, everybody knew something like this was destined to happen at some point, and better now than in the playoffs. Subconsciously or not, the 49ers were braced for it. Purdy’s storybook season had been going on and on, but it couldn’t and wouldn’t go on perfectly forever. Nobody can avoid a clunker. Nobody is above this. The 49ers understood it.

And in the minutes and hours after the 49ers’ 33-19 loss at Levi’s Stadium on Monday night, it was quite clear that Purdy absolutely understood this, too. He talked quietly with teammates in the locker room. He walked to the shower room. He got dressed. He nodded at people he knew. He walked to the podium. All the same as he’d done after his best games. No sigh, bite or glower. Just the same. Except, of course, on this day, Purdy had just come off the worst game of his NFL career, by far, and had to try to explain the performance. And most importantly: What happens now?

“For me, it’s like I’ve gotta ask myself, ‘All right, who are you, what do you stand for? Who are you when things are good? Who are you when things don’t go your way?’” Purdy said when asked what was going through his mind as the interceptions piled up. “It’s easy to be riding high and thinking you’re the man when things are going well, winning games and all that kind of stuff. And you don’t really see a whole lot of adversity in some games and whatnot. And this is the reality of the NFL. …

Is that the right answer? There’s no guarantee that Purdy will immediately bounce back from this outing, especially after having to exit a game in the fourth quarter on Monday after suffering from a shoulder stinger for the second consecutive week.

They didn’t want to see any of this, but the 49ers’ leaders also didn’t want to see Purdy look demoralized by this or seem diminished. Didn’t want that at all. And I don’t know if every single one of the 49ers’ leaders checked in with Purdy during or after the onslaught, but the detail of their answers when I asked them about Purdy sort of indicated that they had.

And you can guess that his teammates wanted to hear and see exactly this from Purdy, because it’s the same thing they’ve heard and seen from him before he was anybody, while he was playing brilliantly and, finally, during and after this game on Monday.

How did this happen to somebody who’d only thrown seven interceptions in the first 14 games of the season? Purdy was definitely not at his best. But also, the Ravens are the No. 1 defense in the league and played like it on Monday.

On the first one, Purdy tried to hit Samuel coming across the middle in the end zone but didn’t see safety Kyle Hamilton sliding in from the other side. The 49ers had moved right down the field after holding the Ravens to a game-opening three-and-out.

Purdy said the commonality is that he was trying to make too much happen. That he should take the easier throws. That, if need be, he should be comfortable with a throw-away and punt rather than risk a turnover.

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